Early Emigration

A group of Cubans remember the ’maleconazo*’ in Stockholm. (Misceláneas de Cuba)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Leandro Cansino, Stockholm, 6 September 2019 — I dare to assert what is happening to you right now while you are reading me, when you look around and see how much you’ve been robbed of, how much you have accepted losing to  see yourself live in a merely decent way.

The exchange is more than prosperity. Do you remember the day you left? Nothing was the same again, and yes, we live better, we have what we needed so much and even a little more, we have freedom, we have the peace to speak and our voice is heard and we are not harassed for it. How much did you leave behind, how much did you lose?

Every time I pack my suitcase with joy and reunite with my childhood, an intrapersonal dialogue with many questions is born in me and no answer appears to greet me on the road.

My neighbors are increasingly hunched over. I see that their eyes are lost looking at the ground and they lower their heads, they carry an internal deafening cry silenced by grief. Others have already left without saying goodbye, my friends already have their own families or have moved. I know that they think the same, they will see me older, bald and wrinkled, but yes, I went away facing the possibility of not seeing them again.

Here I am, in Scandinavia, driving a bus along white snowy roads, without salsa or reggaeton; in a reserved, introverted and very methodical society to which I had to force myself to mold to, to learn an unknown language and expose myself to sporadic manifestations of racism.

And it is not a lament, I am happy to see my tribe live better at the same time I think of those who have not been able to emerge and are still under the boot of a few stone souls. Here I am, contributing to the development of a foreign country and the pain of not doing the same for my own.

The only piece of Cuba that I have nearby is called the Embassy. I would call it a Castro savings bank, a den you approach by obligation and pay absurd prices for poorly inked papers, a contradictory passport, an indifferent and despotic treatment.

Do not forget, compatriot, that when you emigrate you make an exchange, you gain in material goods and you lose in spirit, your mind opens and your soul closes, joyful splurges and melancholy swallows. It is no coincidence that your greatest desires are to return to the earth and embrace it, feel the warmth of your parents and not stop looking at them, your tears are your best witnesses. Mother Earth and your family always think of you, and they miss you and pray for you.

*Translator’s note: The “maleconazo” was a spontaneous street protest in Havana in August of 1994.


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